Sunday, June 24, 2012 ~ Fear Itself
“This is preeminently the time to speak the truth, the whole truth, frankly and boldly. Nor need we shrink from honestly facing conditions in our country today. This great Nation will endure as it has endured, will revive and will prosper. So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself—nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.”
We’ll be exploring an impediment to our capacity to communicate — namely our fear — examining how to respond to a situation where someone has power over us (such as in a relationship with landlord, a boss, or a parent — see also Vulnerability and Power). When we respond to power-over we can do so with an external choice (such as moving in the case of conflict with a landlord), although it is not always a viable option to access sufficient resources to exercise our preferred choice. On the other hand, we always have an internal choice about how to respond (for example, cultivating our interior resources such as self-empathy, choosing serenity despite circumstances, or increasing our connection with the person with power-over us). The quality of connection that can be forged may be the best alternative we have to remain in dialogue with someone who wields greater power than we do. Consider that when dealing with conflict, no act is risk free. We may think that using force would circumvent a perceived threat, however this isn’t always the case. Utilizing NVC, another option/tool-at-our-disposal (also one not without risk), may be beneficial in some incidents due to its greater transparency. It is true that the person in power might latch onto our vulnerability in a way that could destructively impact our lives. However, using force can also be negatively consequential. As we contemplate nonviolent approaches to dealing with power, it’s worthy to consider something that Marshall Rosenberg once noted, ‘unacknowledged fear will be taken as aggression.’
An excerpt from notes of Kashtan’s Taking-on-the-World course:
“The path of vulnerability includes understanding what generates so much fear about stepping into more vulnerability in our lives: learning to sit with the discomfort to create more self-connection:finding ways of redefining vulnerability as strength: discovering an inner sense of safety: and securing support in inhabiting more authenticity. More than anything, though, the path of vulnerability is about choice: How can we muster inner strength to understand, face, and transform our fears so we can have the aliveness and authenticity that come from the willingness to share our truth?”
Personal Practice: Self -Connection & Fear
a. Fear results from thoughts about the past or the future.
b. We can transform our relationship to fear by shifting from focusing on a future over which we have no control or a past we can no longer change to being with our needs in the present.
1. Please be ready with a situation in which you have experienced fear. Describe the situation or the inner experience using pure observation language, without any interpretations or ideas.
2. Write down your thoughts you have about this situation.
3. For each of the thoughts you identified in the previous step, identify a need that is giving rise to the thought.
4. Shift your attention back and forth between the observation, a thought, and a need you have connected with. When you focus your attention in each area, bring all of your attention to that aspect. Notice what happens to your emotions as you shift your focus. When do you experience more or less fear? When do you experience other emotions.
5. Bring your attention back to the situation in which you felt fear. How are you feeling now? If there is still significant fear, check to see if there are any other thoughts you haven’t worked with.
6. If you have gone back more than once, ask yourself what needs of yours are leading you to choose to respond with fear. Another way of thinking about it: what is the significance of this fear? To what essential needs of yours is the fear designed to bring into awareness?
7. As you reflect on all the needs you have uncovered, are you able to bring compassion and tenderness towards yourself? If not, what are the obstacles? Can you connect with the needs that may be keeping you from softening your heart towards your fear and your choices.